Jackie Greene set to perform at Vilar Center Saturday evening
Vail, CO, Colorado
At the ripe old age of 27, Jackie Greene has already played with greats like B.B. King, Phil Lesh and Friends and Susan Tedeschi, as well as performed on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” At Bonnaroo, no less than the New York Times called him “the Prince of Americana.” Still Jackie Greene has flown largely under the pop radar, picking up cults of devoted fans in cities across the nation who know all the words to his Dylanesque songs. But they can’t keep him for long: Having just finished another album of bluesy, road-weary Americana, Greene is primed for a much bigger spotlight.
Before his Saturday show at the Vilar, Jackie took a break from the studio to answer a few questions about his next record, famous friends and that Prince comparison.
Vail Daily: How did your collaboration with Phil Lesh and friends come together? What was it like touring with such pack of legends?
Jackie Greene: Phil had been a fan of the last record I made and had come to see my band play. Since he lives near where I live, we sort of struck up a friendship and eventually he asked if I would do a tour with him. It’s truly an honor to play on stage with these guys. I’ve learned so much and have a really great time.
VD: I understand you’re in the middle of recording right now. What do you want to accomplish in terms of progressing from your last album, “American Myth?” What new sounds are you looking for, and what do you want to do differently?
JG: In fact, (I’m) just finishing up most of the recording today. The differences may lie in the songs more than the sonics, I think. Certainly there are differences to be considered. The new record is a little bit darker a vibe, I would say. But perhaps there is some hopefulness to it as well. My touring band cut about half the record and the same guys from “American Myth” cut the other half, so it’s interesting. It actually all works really well together.
VD: What are some of the things you’ve learned from playing with greats like B.B. King, Taj Mahal and Buddy Guy? Any favorite stories?
JG: I’m not sure. Mainly on those tours, I didn’t talk to them a whole lot. It’s like that. Or rather, maybe, I’m like that. I’m a little shy around most people. I have some stories of my own times on these tours … but none of them really involve those guys.
VD: Do you thrive in the studio or do you prefer the road?
JG: A bit of both, I think. I enjoy the studio but too much can be awful. Same with the road. Too much is painful. It’s a strange balance.
VD: What’s been inspiring you for this record?
JG: Many things. Mainly I just follow my instincts as a songwriter. Whatever direction I happen to be going in, I don’t fight it. I used to, but not anymore.
I try and take little bits of what I learn over the year and incorporate them into the next record. Nothing really stands out to me in terms of a singular experience that is a starting point for inspiration. The song set has a unique flow to them, even though they were written at different times and different states of mind.
VD: The New York Times compared you to Prince in an interesting sort of way. How do you feel about the comparison?
JG: Well, I like Prince, so it’s fine with me. He’s an amazing musician. Plays everything. Sings great, writes great. What’s not to like? Sure, he’s a bit girly, but who cares? These days, most guys are a bit girly anyways.
VD: Do you play in the mountains at all? Do you experience a different vibe for your live shows?
JG: Yes, we’ve played Aspen, Telluride, etc. a number of times. I have a rough time because of the altitude. Smoking doesn’t help either, but I do it anyways.
The vibe of the live shows are sometimes solely dependent on the audience. Many people don’t realize it, but performers feed off the audience. If the audience is rowdy, the band gets rowdy, etc. I admire those artists who can create their own space live, and don’t give a shit about the mood of the audience. I can’t really do that yet. I probably care too much.
VD: When you played for Conan O’Brien’s show, was it just like any audience, or did being on TV make a difference?
JG: It was a little nerve racking. Not the playing, but everything leading up to it. The make up person, the tiny dressing room, etc. It was all very surreal. I dig it though, I hope I can do it again sometime soon.
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Vail’s updated plans regarding the state guidelines and isolation housing requirements is one of several pieces of information guests are waiting on heading into the 2020-21 season.